Sunday July 31, 2022 Romans Week 61 Romans 12:1-2 “The Route to Renewal”

Sunday – July 31, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – July 31, 2022

Romans 12:1-2
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

The more I meditate on the words of Paul in Romans 12, the more I see that he has outlined God’s way of reversing the process of mental and moral decay outlined in Romans 1. God revealed something of His character and attributes in the creation of the world. People should be able to look at creation and see not only that it was created by a Creator, but that this Creator has a divine nature and eternal power. This revelation of God’s nature and power requires man’s response in worship and adoration. But instead of falling down before God in worship, men either rejected this revelation or exchanged it for that “knowledge” which suited their own sinful inclinations and desires. Humanity put God down and elevated themselves to His place of glory, honor and praise.

How could the adverse effects of sin be reversed? Only through the grace of God, manifested in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The process by which that renewal takes place is outlined in Romans 12:1 and 2. God has now revealed Himself in the person of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1-3). He has revealed not only our sin but His righteousness. He has offered to all who will believe forgiveness of sins and eternal life by the pouring out of His mercies. These mercies are the subject of chapters 1-11 of Romans. On the basis of this great revelation of the kindness and severity of God, Paul has called upon believers in the Lord Jesus to respond in a way appropriate to the revelation we have received- in worship.

We are to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God. We are to honor and serve Him, living holy and obedient lives. Those who respond in worship as Paul has urged will enter into the life-long process of renewal and restoration. The grip of this age will loosen and the process of transformation will begin by the renewing of our minds. The result of such a sacrifice is that both our bodies and our minds will begin to be conformed to Christ and His image, to the praise of His glory.

The point of this passage is to urge each Christian to offer himself to God as a thank offering, based upon the mercy and the grace of God which has been poured out on those who believe. Have you trusted in Jesus Christ for salvation? Have you experienced the mercies of God? If so, then have you offered your life to Him, as a sacrifice, for His glory and praise? Just as men are called upon to make a decision concerning salvation, Paul calls on believers to make the decision to worship God by offering our lives to Him who has loved us and given Himself for us. I urge you to do this today, because of His manifold mercies.

Sunday June 19, 2022 Romans Week 55 Romans 10:1-13 “The Essence of the Gospel”

Sunday – June 19, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – June 19, 2022

Romans 10:8-10
But what does it say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART” — that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

Every time I purchase a new item from the store, the first thing I notice as I take it out of the box is the list of “appropriate” uses for the product.  The manufacturer, I am sure out of fear of being sued, goes to great lengths to explain the appropriate use and care of their product knowing that someone will always find a new but unintended use.  It is always possible to misuse a good thing.

It is also certainly possible to misuse the Old Testament Law, for purposes for which it was never intended. Unfortunately, this is what happened with many of the Jews. God gave the Law for one purpose, but the Jews used it for another. The Law, which was never given as a means of attaining righteousness, was used by the Jews for this very purpose. The result was that the Jews, though working hard to keep the Law, failed to attain righteousness, while the Gentiles who did not even seek righteousness or possess the Law, did attain it.

God made several provisions for His people to enable Him to dwell in their midst—in a way that would not result in their death due to His holiness and their sin. First, God provided the Law. The Law of Moses prescribed the conduct necessary for Israel to live in God’s presence without offending His righteousness. Second, God provided the people with a sacrificial system. The sacrificial system was instituted so that the sins of the people could be atoned for temporarily, by the shedding of the blood of a victim in the sinner’s place. Third, God provided the people with the tabernacle, a provision whereby a holy God could dwell in the midst of a sinful people without putting them to death for their sins.

If law-keeping were God’s means of attaining righteousness, why was it necessary for these elaborate provisions to be made? If Law-keeping was God’s means of making men righteous, then why was it necessary for Christ to come to the earth and die in the sinner’s place? The Old Testament gave every indication that law-keeping was not going to justify anyone. Law-keeping was never a second way of salvation. It was something self-righteous men sought to do, in defiance of God, and in rejection of His provision of righteousness through faith. This is the difference is between faith and works. The Jews tried to earn righteousness by law-keeping; the Gentiles attained righteousness as a gift, by faith in Jesus as the Messiah. Men are saved by believing in Jesus, not by behaving good enough to earn God’s approval.

Sunday June 12, 2022 Romans Week 54 Romans 10:1-21 “Human Responsibility and Salvation”

Sunday – June 12, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – June 12, 2022

Romans 10:2-3
For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. 3 For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.”

Many are familiar with the comedian Jeff Foxworth and his routine “You might be a redneck if…”. A series of one-line descriptions, that if true of listener, indicate the reality they really are a redneck. It is all in good humor, until you recognize he may be referring to you.  Rednecks are not the only ones who may be ignorant of their true identity. Many religious people, some even zealous, consider themselves spiritual smart, but in fact are truly ignorant of the Scriptures. Let’s take short quiz and see where we may find ourselves.

Even though you are a biblical scholar, you may be ignorant of the Scriptures. The Jews considered themselves to be experts concerning the Law (Romans 2). But in the final analysis, they were ignorant concerning the Law. The gospel which they rejected is that which Paul has taught from the Old Testament. Those who took it upon themselves to oppose and correct Jesus were the religious leaders and the biblical scholars of that day. And yet Jesus repeatedly rebuked them for their ignorance concerning the Scriptures. Why was it that the scholars were so ignorant and that people whom they considered “ignorant” were able to understand the Scriptures?

Because when you reject what is clear and compelling in the Scripture, but choose to focus on that which is obscure, or trivial you are ignorant of the Scripture. The Deuteronomy 30 text Paul referred to gives vitally important principles which should guide us in our study of the Scriptures, particularly in our study of the Old Testament of which the Jews were ignorant. First, we must study the Scriptures not as an academic exercise of the mind, but in order to know and to practice what God wants us to do. Many wish to study the Scriptures as an intellectual exercise. They want to deal with truth academically and philosophically, not to obey it. When we view the Bible as something to only know, rather than as something to believe and to do, we have lost sight of its purpose.

Also, our study of the Scriptures should focus on God and the righteousness and salvation which He provides in Christ. Those who correctly searched the Scriptures found Christ there. Those who searched for Christ in the Old Testament Scriptures looked for His coming and recognized Him when He appeared. Our study of the Old Testament should be Christ-centered. Israel’s failure was not in studying the Scriptures but in how they studied them. May God grant that we would study the Old Testament more to find there the same gospel revealed in the New Testament. And may we find there, more and more, the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. To God be the glory.

Sunday June 5, 2022 Romans Week 53 Romans 9:30:33 “The Right Way to God”

Sunday – June 5, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – June 5, 2022

Romans 9:32-33
Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, just as it is written, “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”

Romans 9 has the dubious honor of teaching one of the most emotionally volatile doctrines of all the Bible, that of election.  “What shall we say then?” (9:30) serves both to draw a conclusion and to introduce a new section- more on this next week. The question that Paul has been focused on is, “If God is faithful to His covenant promises to His chosen people, then why are most of the Jews rejecting Jesus as their Messiah and Lord?” Paul has given several explanations for the condition of Israel in his day and in ours as well. Israel’s widespread unbelief and rejection of Jesus is explained by the doctrine of divine election. God did not promise to bless every descendant of Israel but only those to whom He gave the promise. Not all the physical descendants of Israel are true Israelites but only those whom God has chosen as such (9:6-23).

The salvation of the Gentiles is also explained in that God had both purposed and promised to save some Gentiles as well as some Jews. God’s promise to Israel through Hosea was also a promise for the Gentiles, who like Israel, are “not God’s people,” due to their sin, but who can become God’s people by His grace (9:24-26). The small number of believing Israelites is no problem to God or to the fulfillment of His promises. God promised to judge the sins of His people, and in so doing many Jews were destroyed. But God also promised to restore and to bless His people, and consequently He has assured the Jews that He will preserve a remnant, insuring the fulfillment of His promises (9:27-29).

The salvation of the Gentiles and the failure of the Jews is also explained in the Old Testament. God has always saved and blessed men by faith and not by works. Believing Gentiles have been saved by faith in Jesus Christ. Unbelieving Jews are condemned for their lack of faith and for their determination to be declared righteous through law-keeping. For those who believe in Him, Jesus is God’s rock of salvation. Jesus is, for those who reject Him, God’s “stone of stumbling”.

What kind of a “stone” is Jesus to you, my friend? Is He the rock of your salvation, or is He a stone of offense? Is Jesus the basis of your stumbling or the source of your salvation? Do not leave this passage without making your decision about this most crucial question. It matters not whether you are Jew or Gentile, rich or poor, but only if you are trusting in Jesus alone for salvation and not in your own merit and works.

Sunday May 15, 2022 Romans Week 51 Romans 9:4-23 “Glory in Judgment”

Sunday – May 15, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – May 15, 2022

Romans 9:16-18
It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.”

One of the key words in our passage is the word “mercy.” In tracking the use of this word in the New Testament, I learned something very significant: No one ever called upon our Lord for mercy and was turned away. No one ever came to our Lord and asked for mercy and received a response like: “Well, you are not one of the elect. I’m sorry, you’ll have to go away.” Every individual who asked Jesus for mercy in the gospels received it. Those who spurned His grace were condemned.

Some Christians seem to think God is glorified only by the salvation of sinners. This is not the case. God is equally glorified by the condemnation of sinners. Moses and the exodus of Israel from Egypt glorified God. Pharaoh’s hardened heart and his resistance against God and His people also glorified God. All of God’s creation will ultimately bring glory to Him. The ultimate question is not whether God will receive glory. The ultimate question for you is whether He will be glorified by your salvation or by your condemnation. God has nothing to lose and everything to gain. You have everything to lose or everything to gain.

The doctrine of election is not brought up by Paul until Romans 9. It is a doctrine every Christian needs to understand. It is not a doctrine every unbeliever needs to know. Unbelievers need to know that they are sinners and that the wrath of God awaits them. They need to know that God has provided a way of escaping His wrath and of entering into His promised blessings. That “way” is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6). No one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ. By His death, Jesus suffered God’s wrath on the sinner. By His life, you can be given new life. Receive this gift. Call upon Him for mercy, and He will forgive; He will save.

The principle laid down by Jeremiah still holds today. God has promised to forgive and to bless those sinners who repent and who will receive His mercy. God has promised to judge those who resist and reject His grace. When the day of judgment has come or when the day of our death comes, there will no longer be an opportunity for mercy. The time when God’s mercy is extended to sinners is now. The day of judgment rapidly approaches. Do not delay, my friend. Plead for mercy, and He will grant it. God’s justice will be executed. We must not doubt this. God’s mercy is now offered. Take it, today.

Sunday March 13, 2022 Romans Week 45 Romans 8:33-34 “Gods Answer to Guilt”

Sunday – March 13, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – March 13, 2022

Romans 8:33-35
Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.”

Most of us know what the courtroom is like from watching on television. At the front of the courtroom, the judge is seated. He will be the one who hears the testimony, views the evidence, and pronounces the verdict. To the left of the judge, the prosecution is seated. The task of the prosecutor is to make accusations against the accused and to prove the charges are legitimate. To the right of the judge sits the defendant—the one who is to be accused. And at the side of the accused is seated the counsel for the defense, whose job it is to argue on behalf of the accused in his defense.

Just as God has ordained that there is no other Savior than Jesus Christ, so there is no other Judge than Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ has two roles. The first is that as Savior, second is that of Judge. All who receive Him as Savior need never fear facing His sentence of condemnation as the Judge of all the earth. Those who reject Him as Savior most certainly will be condemned by Him as their Judge. These two roles of our Lord—Savior and Judge—are both claimed by our Lord (John 3:17, 5:22, 5:27, 12:47-48).

At first it seems that Jesus’s words are contradictory. He did not come to judge, and yet He will judge. This difficulty is easily explained in the light of our Lord’s two comings. The purpose of our Lord’s first coming was not to come as the Judge to condemn sinners. The purpose of His first coming was to make an atonement for the sins of men. But when He comes again, He comes to judge the earth and to condemn all who have rejected God’s salvation through His shed blood. The Lord is either one’s Savior or one’s Judge. If He is your Savior, He will not be your Judge, who will pronounce God’s condemnation upon you. If you reject Him as Savior, He will most certainly be your Judge.

It is this truth—that God has made Jesus either one’s Savior or his Judge. Ponder this courtroom scene for a moment. Outside of faith in Jesus Christ, every man is a guilty sinner. When judgment day comes, he must sit in the defendant’s seat, the seat of the accused. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Judge, the One whom the sinner has scorned and rejected. The Lord Jesus is also the prosecutor and the accused sinner has no defense. But salvation changes all this. The forgiven sinner need not sit in the defendant’s chair because the prosecutor cannot press any charges. The Father, the Judge, has already pronounced us to be righteous, justified by faith. How could the Judge condemn us? Jesus Christ has already been condemned in our place. He was raised from the dead, and He now is at the right hand of the Father interceding for us. No one can rightfully condemn us, the One who was our Judge has become our Justifier.

Sunday – January 16, 2022 Romans Week 37 Romans 8:9-13 “Alive in the Spirit”

Sunday – January 16, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – January 16, 2022

Romans 8:9-10
However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.”

The most important question that you ever need to answer is, “Do I belong to Christ?” If you belong to Christ, all of God’s promises are “yes” for you in Him (2 Cor. 1:20). If you belong to Christ, you are reconciled to God, your sins are all forgiven, you can enjoy fellowship with Him every day, and you know that if you were to die today, you would be with the Lord in the glory of heaven forever. So, do you belong to Christ? One of the main reasons for studying Romans 8 is to give assurance to we who believe that we belong to Jesus Christ for time and eternity.

Paul divides all people into just two categories: Those who are “in the flesh” and those “in the Spirit.” There is no category for fence sitting Christians, who claim that Jesus is their Savior, but not their Lord. While the process of bringing every area of life under the lordship of Christ is lifelong, every true Christian is involved in that process. If the direction of your life is not, “Jesus, You are my Lord and I submit all of myself that I am aware of to You,” then you are not a Christian in the vital sense of that word.

Being a Christian is not a matter of going to church or believing certain doctrines of the Christian faith or trying to live by certain moral standards. Of course, true Christians do all of those things, but the vital thing is that the Holy Spirit has caused you to be born again. Jesus said this very plainly to Nicodemus, a Pharisee and ruler of the Jews. Talk about going to church—this man went to the temple to pray several times a day. He never skipped a religious observance to go watch the “big game”! Talk about believing in certain doctrines—he had memorized large portions of the Hebrew Scriptures. Talk about morality—this man was scrupulous about keeping the Ten Commandments.

But Jesus’ opening words to him were (John 3:3), “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” He went on to say (John 3:7), “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” Peter spoke of the same thing (1 Pet. 1:3): “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”. When we are born again, the Holy Spirit imparts new life to us and takes up residence in us. The mark of being a Christian is the Holy Spirit dwells in you and you now belong to Christ.

Sunday – January 9, 2022 Romans Week 36 Romans 8:5-8 “Siding with the Spirit”

Sunday – January 9, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – January 9, 2022

Romans 8:5
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.”

There is a popular but mistaken view that there are two optional tracks for the Christian life. If you’re prone toward hard work, you can sign up for the discipleship track. Under this plan, you give up everything to follow Christ. You have to deny yourself and take up your cross daily and endure hardship and sacrifice. The other track, the “cultural Christian track,” is for the rest of us more “ordinary” believers. Under this plan, you can accept Jesus as your Savior (to make sure that you’ll go to heaven), but also pursue your dreams for success and personal fulfillment in this life. You get the best of both worlds without needing to be gung-ho, like those on the discipleship track.

The idea that discipleship is optional or a spiritual perk for those who have the inclination is a myth. Jesus’ mandate to make disciples goes beyond informing the mind; it aims to shape the character.  It encompasses tutoring the heart to forge godly character as well as training disciples in practical ministry skills.  New Testament discipleship targets the head, the heart, and the hands.

The process of sanctification (what God does) is inseparably related to discipleship (what we do).  Sanctification is only possible when this process is initiated and infused with the Holy Spirit who comes to live in the heart of a believer.  Christianity is not hard; it’s impossible.  You can’t live a Christian life apart from the Spirit of Christ. Discipleship is not a matter of turning over a new leaf, but rather, receiving a new life. God, by His Holy Spirit, comes to live in the heart of the believer.  He creates new affections (new loves, new desires) that inform the mind and empower the will. Paul captures this idea when he says: “…continue to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.”  (Phil 2:12)

Note your work and God’s work.  You (the believer) are to work out your salvation.  Not to work for your salvation but to work out what God has already worked in as a free gift.  I understand what a “workout” is and does.  A physical workout takes time, energy and effort and over time will reshape the body.  Likewise, spiritual practices take time, energy and effort, but over time will reshape the soul. This happens as God does His work in this – “to give you the desire and power to do what pleases Him.” Embrace the Good News.  Jesus came into this world to die for our sin and to be resurrected to new life, so you can encounter Him and let Him empower you to live the life He calls you to.  Then prompted and empowered by the Holy Spirit, commit yourself to the things Jesus calls you to do.

Sunday – January 2, 2022 Romans Week 35 Romans 8:1-4 “Dealing with Guilt and Sin”

Sunday – January 2, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – January 2, 2022

Romans 8:1-2
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

We come to a chapter that has often been called either the greatest or one of the greatest chapters in the Bible. Many have pointed out that it begins with “no condemnation”, ends with “no separation” and in between there is “no defeat”. Personally, I’ve come to Romans 8 again and again when I’ve been discouraged or depressed. If you struggle with guilt or with sin, if you’re going through trials, read Romans 8. If you’re struggling with assurance of your salvation, Romans 8 has the answer. Interestingly, while Romans 8 exhorts me forward in my faith, there is not a single command in the chapter. Philipp Spener truly said that if the Bible were a ring and Romans its precious stone, chapter 8 would be “the sparkling point of the jewel”.

There is a noticeable shift from Romans 7 to Romans 8. In chapter 7, “I” is frequent, the law is prominent, and sin is dominant. In chapter 8, the Holy Spirit is frequent (more than any other NT chapter), God’s grace and persevering love are prominent, and victory over sin is dominant. Right out of the gate, Paul deals with two very practical issues: guilt and sin. As we saw in chapter 7, believers fight an inner war. That is why Paul’s teaching in Romans 8:1-4 is fundamental to the Christian life.

The Christian need not be overcome by guilt or by fear, due to his sins. The cross of Jesus Christ is the solution from sin and its condemnation, for all who are justified by faith. The death which Christ died was for all of the sins of the one who receives His work, by faith. The righteousness which the Law requires and which we find impossible to achieve, God achieves in and through the Christian, through the prompting of and power of the Holy Spirit. In Christ and through the Holy Spirit, God has delivered us from the penalty and the power of sin.

There is no condemnation! What a wonderful truth to the ears of every believer. While our Lord’s death at Calvary delivered us from condemnation, it also delivered sin to condemnation. In Christ, God condemned sin. God condemned sin in the flesh. The flesh was the “handle” sin found to lay hold of us and to bring us under condemnation. When God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, He came in the flesh. He came in the likeness of sinful flesh. And when He suffered the wrath of God and the penalty of death in the flesh, sin was condemned in the flesh. In that very realm of the flesh, in which it seemed sin could not be defeated, God overpowered sin, condemning it in the flesh. Because of Jesus Christ, we are not condemned. Because of Him, sin is condemned, and in the flesh. For the Christian, the shackles of sin are surely broken.

Sunday – December 12, 2021 Romans Week 33 Romans 7:14-25 Pt 2 “This is War”

Sunday – December 12, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – December 12, 2021

Romans 7:24-25
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

I tend to think of Paul as the man with all the answers. If anyone can understand sin and my struggle with it, it would be Paul. But in our text Paul is the one struggling, and he does not offer a quick or easy explanation. This is because sin cannot be understood. Sin is irrational. We try to rationalize our sinful actions to make it appear that we have reasons, good reasons, for our sin but there is no good reason for sin. Sin is an irrational act which has no easy, rational explanation.

We have little difficulty believing we struggle with sin or that others like Peter struggled, but Paul somehow seems above it all.  Yet Paul’s struggle is a deeply personal struggle, with sin and with his own flesh. It is a war within, the result from his conversion to Christ, that did not exist until he was saved. However, Paul’s despair was legitimate and even necessary. Until we hate sin, we will not turn from it. Until we reach the end of ourselves, we will not look to God. Just as unsaved person must come to the end of themselves in order to receive God’s gracious provision of righteousness, by faith in Christ, Christians too must come to the end of themselves to find the solution, once again, at the cross of Calvary.

If coming to the end of ourselves is essential to turning to God for our deliverance, then many Christians will never turn to God for victory over sin because they do not recognize their true condition or take it seriously enough. It was the self-righteous Pharisees who did not come to Jesus for forgiveness simply because they did not think they needed it. It is the “smooth-sailing saints” who do not come to the cross for deliverance from the power of sin in their lives because they do not agonize over their condition as Paul did.

How great is our struggle? My concern is that I lack the kind of agony that Paul has. If our struggle is as great as Paul’s, we will in desperation give up all self-help efforts and turn to the cross. God has provided a righteousness through the power of the Spirit. The answer is to come in Romans 8- the very Spirit that raised the dead body of Jesus Christ from the grave is the Spirit that dwells in you and will give life to your mortal bodies. The solution for Christians is the walk of the Spirit, but we will never get to that point until we have come to the desperation of Paul in Romans 7. My prayer is that we begin to grasp the immensity of the struggle with sin and forsake all efforts to serve God in the strength of our flesh.